Fierce Obsessions

Page 40

"Aren't they more important to you than retribution?"
"You know they are."
"Then let's just get out of here." He framed her face with his hands. "I spoke with Trey on the phone last night. Ramón has completely backed off. He hasn't made a single call since Trey spoke to him on the day you were shot at. It's safe to go home. It's time. Sage will keep investigating the shootings-he wants to know who shot Lucy as much as you do."
She closed her eyes, torn. For a while it had been rage that kept her there. But now that her thirst for blood had somewhat eased, she was more interested in getting back to the kids than in letting the gunman keep her away from Savannah and Dexter. The bastard didn't deserve any such power.
Sighing, she opened her eyes. "All right, we can go."
Tao smiled and kissed her. "That's my girl." His wolf pretty much sagged in relief.
"But I'd like to see Lucy before we leave. I want to check on her."
Tao nodded. "I'll call Sage, tell him that we're leaving, and ask if he'll let you in Lucy's room to say goodbye. How's that?"
"That would be good."
Tao pulled out his cell. "What's his number?"
"I don't know it by heart. Just use my phone." She plucked it from the coffee table and handed it to him.
He found Sage's number in her list of contacts and dialed it, keeping Riley pressed against him so she could hear the conversation. It took a while for the Alpha to answer.
"Hello," he greeted, his voice unusually gruff.
"Sage, it's Tao."
"I take it you heard, then."
Tao stilled. "Heard what?"
"About Sawyer."
"What about him?"
"He was shot twenty minutes ago."
Fuck. Not the least bit surprised that Riley's eyes were blazing with anger, Tao asked the Alpha, "What exactly happened?"
"He was patrolling the perimeter, just as he does most mornings," replied Sage. "Hugh heard the shot and, given what had been happening lately, didn't want to assume it was a human hunter. He was first on the scene and managed to stop the blood flow. The bullet tore through Sawyer's side, but thankfully it didn't hit any major organs." He paused. "I'm surprised you haven't already heard about it. We had to call Max in-he and Ethan know what happened." There was the sound of other voices in the background, and then Sage said, "I have to go, Tao. We can speak again later."
Tao slung her phone onto the table. "You hear all that?"
Riley jumped to her feet. "What the hell is going on, Tao?"
"I don't know." Standing, he once again fished out his cell. "I have to call Dante."
She grabbed her own phone. "I'll be talking to Ethan. I want to know why he didn't tell me what happened." It turned out that Ethan hadn't told her straightaway because someone was starting to speculate that Riley was somehow involved, and Ethan hadn't wanted her anywhere near the mob of people whose emotions were running high. When she passed on that information to Tao, his face turned a disturbing shade of red.
"You are shitting me," rumbled Tao.
"I wish I was." Hurt, angry, and confused, Riley began to pace. "Ethan avoided the question when I asked him who it was. I don't know why."
"How can anyone suspect you?" His wolf bared his teeth, pissed beyond belief. "Everyone knows that you were there when both Ethan and Lucy were shot! How the fuck could it have possibly been you?"
"They think that I have one of the Phoenix Pack hiding in the mountains, doing the shootings."
Tao swore. "We have to get out of here, Riley ."
She came to a halt. "Tao-"
"No, this isn't a negotiation."
Bristling, she was about to snap at him, but then she heard familiar voices outside. Riley stayed in place while Tao opened the door for the Phoenix wolves.
Dante strode in, fairly vibrating with anger. "I cannot fucking believe this shit. What did Sage say, word for word?"
Tao quickly relayed the conversation to his pack mates.
"They're seriously blaming Riley? I say we just get out of here," declared Makenna.
Tao nodded. "I agree."
"You guys go if you want," said Riley. "I'm staying."
"I can understand why you'd want to stay, Riley," Dante told her. "In your position I'd want blood too. But we've questioned every person in this flock and we still can't be positive who's doing this."
"If I were Alpha," began Ryan, "I would have detained every suspect and separated potential targets for their own protection. Sage hasn't done a single thing. If his own daughter wasn't shot, I'd suspect he had something to do with not only this but with what happened four years ago."
Riley blinked. "Sage? Really?"
"You don't think it's convenient that both of his daughters weren't at Alec's party that night?" asked Ryan. "He was also the one to arrange a celebration for your uncles' anniversary-he had to know Lucy would invite you. Maybe he wanted you here to tie up loose ends."
Riley hadn't really considered that. "But . . . he loves Lucy, and he was at the scene when she was shot right in front of us."
"Which are yet more reasons why I don't suspect him," said Ryan. "But I also don't trust him. I don't like his lack of action."
Tao turned to Riley. "We've done what we can to find out who it is, and we can only be sure of three things: One, they can't shoot worth shit or you, Lucy, and Sawyer would all be dead. Two, if this is about finishing Wade's job, they have a grudge against the five of you remaining from your age-group. Three, if they are related to the past shootings, they're cunning and manipulative to have done what they did to Wade and kept the entire flock fooled all these years. Much as I hate to say it, we're no closer to finding out who they are now than we were when we first got here. It's time to go home."
"I can't leave." Riley shook her head. "Not now."
"For fuck's sake, Riley!" Tao threw up his arms. "What the hell can you possibly do here?"
Nothing. She knew that. But walking away after Ethan, Lucy, and Sawyer had been shot . . . it felt disloyal, as if she were leaving them to deal with the entire mess. Riley knew intellectually that she wasn't to blame for what was happening, but her arrival had still somehow triggered it. She didn't know how or why, only that it might never have happened if she hadn't come. To just run back to Phoenix Pack territory and leave them to their fate felt wrong. Maybe it didn't make a lot of sense, but that was how she felt.
"This isn't up for debate," snapped Tao. "We're leaving. Pack your shit and let's go."
She lifted her chin at his dictatorial tone. Her raven let out a pissed-off croak. "Don't ever think you can intimidate me into doing what you want," she clipped. "Throw your dick and dominance around all you want, but I have my own mind and I'll damn well use it." She looked at the others. "I appreciate that you came to help. You've done more than enough and I really don't blame you for leaving, but I can't go." With that she spun on her heel and stalked up the stairs.

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